Dartford care home’s therapy dog provides happiness in height of third national lockdown


A long-haired Jack Russell has boosted the morale of care home residents.

Residents from Sonya Lodge Residential Care Centre, in Dartford, have fallen head-over-heels for Roxi the therapy dog.

Resident Anne Welsh with Roxi. Picture: Nellsar

Next Monday is known as ‘Blue Monday’ – thought to be the most challenging day of the year from a mental wellbeing point, exacerbated this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

To combat this challenging time, the care home, in Church Hill, has been bridging the gap of lost physical connection with loved ones through the much-loved pooch.

She has provided the residents with enriching mental stimulation through petting and reminiscing, as well as offering companionship during the ongoing restriction on visitors.

Roxi is a rescue dog who is cared for by the home’s business support officer, Amanda Jones.

One resident, Maggie Newham, 74, is reminded of her own dog Woody, affectionately named after first being found chewing on wood, when playing with Roxi.

From left, resident Margaret Newham, business support officer Amanda Jones, and resident Pat Barnes with Roxi. Picture: Nellsar
From left, resident Margaret Newham, business support officer Amanda Jones, and resident Pat Barnes with Roxi. Picture: Nellsar

Doris Harley, 82, has built a strong connection with Roxi by walking her around the home and petting her in the main lounge, a simple action that Amanda believes is crucial to residents’ mental health.

Amanda said: “It’s been an extremely challenging 12 months for everyone, and particularly for those in social care.

“We see Blue Monday as a chance to talk and offer support to people who may be struggling with their mental health, and this year there will be millions of us who are impacted by the so called ‘winter blues’.

“With restrictions on visitation to the home following another national lockdown, Roxi plays a pivotal role in allowing our residents to emotionally connect on a meaningful level, whether it’s through stroking, cuddling, or even just talking to her.

Business support officer, Amanda Jones, and her loyal companion Roxi. Picture: Nellsar
Business support officer, Amanda Jones, and her loyal companion Roxi. Picture: Nellsar

“Roxi was a stray who had fallen on tough times, and from the moment I saw her all dishevelled and unloved at a dog charity eight years ago, I fell in love with her.

“I walk her into work every day where she has a bed under my desk and a pack of dog treats at the ready.

“The reaction she provokes from our residents every day will never cease to amaze me – the calming effects and reassurance is priceless and so wonderful to see.”

Sonya Lodge is part of Nellsar, a family-run care group of 13 homes across Kent, Surrey and Essex.

Read more: All the latest news from Dartford



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